Libraries provide critical resources

I am writing in response to the May 12 story in the BDN, “Local budgets in Maine are seeing massive shortfalls, federal help remains uncertain.” This article outlines a dire situation for the local budgets of Maine’s towns and cities because of revenue shortfalls due to the coronavirus.

While I understand there will be difficult decisions to make, I strongly disagree with the suggestion that libraries “might be among the first programs cut.” Even while closed due to the pandemic, libraries have continued to provide important services for their communities, like WiFi from their parking lots, digital access to materials, virtual programs of all types and have continued to provide information via email or phone.

In the difficult days ahead, libraries will reopen and will be essential to the economic recovery of their communities. Libraries are vibrant community spaces that will provide needed assistance applying for jobs, support for small businesses, assistance applying for government services, computer and broadband internet access, and traditional library services to inform and entertain their patrons.

For every dollar spent on Maine public libraries, the return on investment for towns is $4.59. A strong library equals a strong community. Libraries are necessary to have an informed society that supports its most vulnerable populations. I urge decision makers to avoid making budget cuts too quickly and reducing or doing away with the programs and services that our community members will need the most.

Jennifer Alvino

President

Maine Library Association

Portland

Open for business

By locking down the state and severely restricting the civil liberties of Mainers, the burden is on Gov. Janet Mills and local officials to prove a compelling state interest for the significant burden this is placing on families, churches, hospitals, medical offices and businesses. Small and family-owned businesses in Maine are not allowed to exercise their rights to freely assemble and are suffering significant financial damage and emotional hardship under the thumb of government dictate. Let’s look at the data and see if these draconian lockdown measures meet the test of “compelling state interest.”

In Maine we have approximately 1.3 million residents. To date, 71 deaths attributed to COVID-19 have been reported this year. That equals roughly 5 deaths per 100,000 people since Jan. 1, 2020. In contrast, more than 80 flu deaths were reported for the 2017-2018 flu season in Maine. Furthermore, the rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths have essentially been flat or declining for more than four weeks.

The good news is, Maine is healthy. We appear to have flattened the curve. It is time for all Mainers to open their businesses, medical clinics and churches. Time for elected officials to justify any further restrictions of your constitutional rights. Show us your data, prove the compelling state interest. We’re not interested in erroneous projections, what-if models and fear mongering. We’re taking our rights back. Open for business.

David Sawicki

Lovell

Impressed by Gideon

Last fall, I went to Farmington to learn about Sara Gideon. She gave a short speech to the crowd, following up with questions and answers. While her speech was sincere and informative, it was her answers to questions that left an impression. Many in the audience were lobbing controversial questions her way, seemingly trying to play “gotcha” or create an uncomfortable situation. Gideon remained calm, providing well-researched, clear answers. It was apparent she had studied the issues and had reached conclusions she felt would work best for Mainers. I left feeling comfortable that she could be a fine senator for Maine.

Since that time I have followed her campaign, looking to see if she would begin to modify answers in order to please donors — maybe change her attitudes to appeal to certain constituencies. Pleasantly, she has stuck to her values and still supports well thought-out, common-sense plans to address issues facing our state.

If you are frustrated with Sen. Susan Collins, I encourage you to look at Gideon’s website. It is clear to me that Gideon will passionately represent Maine and the needs of Mainers in an informed, thoughtful and respectful way.

Cynthia Orcutt

Kingfield